Thirty-six learners, employers and training providers from across Wales have been selected as finalists for this year’s prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru after a record number of entries.
The coveted awards, organised jointly by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), culminate with a high profile presentation ceremony and dinner at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Friday, October 31.
The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru celebrate the achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative and enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.
Showcasing excellence in skills development in Wales by learners, employers and learning providers, the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC with support from media partner, Media Wales.
The awards recognise employers who commit to developing their workforce through apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes, which support employees during their training. They are also a great way to evaluate training and development, as well as a fantastic motivational factor for any workforce or learner.
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
The finalists in the 13 categories are: Apprentice and Entrepreneurial Apprentice of the Year: James Perry from Pentre who works for Openreach at BT, Neil Meredith from Abercynon who works for Complete Core Business Solutions, Sophie Gittins from Berriew who works for C. D. Gittins Partnership and Tom Jones, who owns Jones Butchers, Llangollen.
Higher Apprentice of the Year: Daniella Hughes from Mynydd Isa, Mold and Devon Sumner from Saighton, near Chester who both work for Airbus UK and Luke Goodrich from Morriston who works for the Department of Transport.
Foundation Apprentice of the Year: Matthew Edwards from Hope, Wrexham who works for Vaughan’s Family Butchers, Penyfford, near Chester, Thomas Woodward from Newtown who works for RWE Innogy, Tomos Kinsey from Newbridge who works for John Lewis.
Traineeships Learner of the Year (Engagement): Andrew Lloyd from Conwy, Dewi Evans from Tonyrefail and Nicole Evans from Bangor. Traineeship Learner of the Year (Level 1): Ashley Coleman from Pentrebane, Cardiff, Nicholas Mckeown from Bangor and Rebecca Cooper from Llanfaethlu, Holyhead.
Jobs Growth Wales Outstanding Achiever of the Year: Helen Brickley from Pontllanfraith, who works for Goose Island, Ricky Owen from Morriston who works for Hydra Blackwood Technologies Ltd and Sion Hampson from Dinas Powys who works for Pedal Power.
The three finalists in the Macro Employer of the Year category (over 5,000 employees) are BBC Cymru Wales, Conwy and Denbighshire Local Service Board and EE Ltd, Merthyr Tydfil.
Large Employer of the Year category (250 to 4,999 employees): City and County of Swansea Corporate Building and Property Services, Dunbia (Wales) Llanybydder, G. E. Aviation, Nantgarw and the National Assembly for Wales. Medium Employer of the Year (from 50 to 249 employees): Andrew Price Group, Narberth, Carmarthenshire Construction Training Association Ltd (CCTAL) and Urdd, Cardiff. Small Employer of the Year (up to 49 employees): Nemein Ltd, Bridgend, Real SFX, Cardiff and Tree Frog Creative, Saltney.
Learning Provider of the Year and Provider Award for Social Responsiveness: ACT Training, Cardiff, Babcock Training Ltd, Cardiff and Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates congratulated all the finalists and said every one of them was already a winner by being shortlisted for the awards.
“I’ve been very impressed with the standard and number of applications from businesses and providers,” he added. “We’ve seen an unprecedented level of interest in the awards this year which is testament to the high regard in which apprenticeships are held.
“Amongst this year’s entries are some truly exceptional apprentices and the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are a chance for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements.
“Equally important, of course, are the training providers and employers who have gone the extra mile to support their apprentices.”
Latest figures from the Welsh Government reveal that success rates for apprenticeships in Wales remain well above 80%.
Apprenticeships are the gold standard in vocational training for ambitious young people.
For a business, they provide added long-term benefits of reduced training and recruitment costs, increased productivity and a responsive, well-motivated workforce.
For individuals, an apprenticeship can hold as much value as a place at a top university, allowing apprentices to earn whilst they learn and gain skills, knowledge and nationally recognised qualifications